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Produced in honor of the 2012 London Olympics and Diamond Jubilee.
Henry Purcell (1659-1695) was a mere 21 when he composed his Fantasias for the viols. That a work of such surpassing contrapuntal genius could have been written by one so young is astounding; that he did not even attempt to have them published in his lifetime is astonishing. Purcell composed the Fantasias over the summer of 1680 between June 10 and August 31. Since the remainder of the works are all dated, the three Fantasias in three parts were presumably written at the start of the summer. The Fantasia in D minor has a multiplicity of short themes that modulate with incredible brilliance through 12 keys in 12 bars before the return of the opening tonality. The Fantasia in F major, one of only five works in a major tonality, makes equally striking use of modulation: after a short pause after a cadence in F major, the music moves boldly down a half-step to E major that functions as the dominant of A major at the head of an amazing modulatory sequence back to the tonic major. The Fantasia in Purcell's favorite key of G minor is equally daring in its harmonic modulations, but also in its rhythmic and contrapuntal inventiveness.